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Immigration law debate involves noncitizens' voting rights

Efforts have been growing to expand voting rights for immigrants who lack the proper paperwork. In fact, several cities in some states already permit noncitizens to vote in their local elections. However, this trend goes against the anti-immigration push felt in many parts of the country, including New York, based on immigration law.

Supporters of the trend have stated that they simply feel that residents of towns and cities -- even if they are not officially citizens -- should be able to have a say in the way their governments operate. For this reason, some cities have pushed and approved for voting rights not only for immigrants who lack the necessary documents but also for residents who have green cards and student visa holders. The matters on which they would vote do not include national or statewide policy.

Instead of voting on major, large-scale issues, immigrants who do not have the proper paperwork would be voting about issues such as equipment for parks, trash pickup and snow removal. Voting by noncitizens in the United States was actually normal between 1776 and 1926, with a whopping 40 states/ federal territories allowing noncitizens to participate in local and state elections. Sometimes they were permitted to take part in federal elections as well.

Immigrants who lack the proper paperwork may understandably be confused about what their rights currently are in today's dynamic political climate. All the while, they may be interested in achieving the status of a citizen or another recognized status. An immigration law attorney in New York can help with navigating this process and ensuring that all of one's rights and best interests are upheld in the Big Apple.

Source:, "Immigrants Are Getting the Right to Vote in Cities Across America", John Haltiwanger, Sept. 13, 2017

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